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Alabama City School System Proactive in Meeting New Meal Standards

Andalusia City Schools were ahead of the curve. Even before they applied for the Healthier U.S. School Challenge (HUSSC) and won a Gold Award of Distinction for their elementary school, Andalusia City Schools were already taking steps towards making nutritional improvements to their meals. 

“We have a long standing tradition of excellence and are recognized as a system where performance exceeds expectations,” said Ms. Stephanie Dillard, child nutrition director for Andalusia City Schools. “At Andalusia City Schools we want what is best for all students, and we exceed expectations in our school meals.”

Schools in Andalusia began serving whole wheat breads and romaine lettuce prior to applying for the HUSSC. Additionally, the schools increased their fruit and vegetable offerings, including dark green and dark orange vegetables a few times a week. Students were also already served one percent or skim milk. 

Anna Beth Jackson enjoys her meal at Andalusia Elementary School.

“Increasing whole grains and fruits and vegetables is beneficial in any child’s diet,” Ms. Dillard said. “The new meal pattern is teaching children at a younger age how to eat healthier and to make better choices. If we reach students at school and teach them how to lead a healthier lifestyle by good food choices and physical activity, this will not only lead to healthy students but also help families lead a healthy lifestyle.”

Andalusia City Schools has used creativity to adhere to the new meal standards. A new recipe on the menu, Strawberries and Bananas, has been a favorite among the students. The healthy meal is prepared by the cooks by mixing together fresh bananas, frozen strawberries, and apple sauce.

With help from their USDA Fruit and Vegetable Grant, the schools also serve fun and unusual fruits and vegetables, like dragonfruit, ugli fruit, horned melon, asparagus (white and green), carrots, star fruit, pluots, muscadines, snow peas, zucchini, brussel sprouts, fresh roasted corn, kiwi berries, pummelo and avocado, as snacks. 

Andalusia Elementary School students pause for a photo before lunch at school.

Healthy changes have not only been made in the cafeteria. Schools in Andalusia have also incorporated the importance of nutrition in the classroom. To teach graphing lessons, teachers now survey students, asking their favorite fruits and vegetables, and create bar graphs. Fractions are now taught using fruits and vegetables as well. And in English class, teachers ask students to describe fruits and vegetables to explain adjectives. 

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